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*Far-Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane* by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell - tweens/young readers book review

Also by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf

Far-Flung Adventures: Hugo Pepper

Far-Flung Adventures: Corby Flood

The Edge Chronicles 8: The Winter Knights

The Edge Chronicles 9: Clash of the Sky Galleons

Muddle Earth
Far-Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane
by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
Ages 9-12 240 pages David Fickling May 2006 Hardcover    

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell team up once again to produce Far-Flung Adventures - Fergus Crane. This talented twosome collaborated on the bestselling children's action-adventure series Edge Chronicles; well-known illustrator Chris Riddell has worked on numerous childrenís books and has been successful as a political cartoonist as well. Paul Stewart, a well-educated author, has written over four dozen books.

Their experience certainly shows in their latest action/fantasy/adventure story, Fergus Crane. From the beginning, something is just not right with the Betty-Jeanne, a school that unexpectedly sails into the small seaside town where nine-year-old Fergus Crane resides with his mother. Few know where the ship came from, and fewer know why it arrived. But there it is, offering free schooling. Some of the townspeople send their children there, though the courses are a little unusual, to save some money.

Mrs. Crane works as a baker, and the story is filled with smells and teasing tales of steaming fresh Florentines and other baked deserts. (YUM!) Poor Mrs. Crane is a single mother struggling with sadness over Fergusís missing father. Nothing much ever happens in this tiny town; Fergus knows the occupants of every building he passes on his way to school. Strangely enough, a wonderful flying box that carries mysterious messages visits Fergus. The very next day, he is warned by the shipís parrot to never return to school. Curious but not overly concerned, Fergus rushes home only to be awoken by a gleaming silver flying-horse machine.

Meeting Uncle Theo, a businessmen and a genius inventor who is confined to a wheelchair, and witnessing his technologically advanced machinery is only a small part of the wild adventure that awaits Fergus. Helped by Uncle Theo and their penguin friends Bill, Finn and Jackson, Fergus must journey to the Emerald Sea to save his friends from a ship of treasure-crazed pirates.

The final dozen or so pages contain scrapbook entries made by one of the characters, followed by unique author and illustrator biographies. Riddellís black-and-white pen and ink illustrations are certainly the stand-out feature of Fergus Crane, keeping reader interest alive throughtout the sometimes dry text. Chris Riddell masterfully illustrates fun and amusing faces, expressions, and scenes of action.

David Fickling Books is a small but popular division of Random House that produces childrenís books within the UK. Map lovers will treasure this book, as there are detailed maps to follow along during the story, and a free pullout map is also provided. Educators for grades one through five will enjoy reading this story in the classroom, as well.

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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